‘Ask the people’ on wages

Melbourne councillor Stephen Mayne wants local citizens to provide independent advice to council ahead of formal negotiations for the next Enterprise Agreement for more than 1000 staff.

Cr Mayne told a business lunch at South Wharf on July 17 that a “people’s panel” would ideally be involved in providing a community perspective on wages and conditions at council before the next agreement comes into force on July 1, 2016.

He said the success of the council’s first use of a people’s panel in advising on the council’s 10-year financial plan showed the technique was ideal for further applications.

“As councillors, we are excluded from the negotiations with employees, but a people’s panel would be an ideal inclusion to represent the interests of the community,” Cr Mayne said.

Cr Mayne said the City of Melbourne had “great” staff but they were more generously remunerated than their local government peers with the 2013-14 annual report disclosing 153 staff received more than $130,000.

He said the EBA was riddled with quirky historical anomalies, which belonged to a bygone era.

“For instance, librarians are working 35 hours a week, while the rest of the staff are working 38,” Cr Mayne said.

He said minimum staff levels were mandated in some council departments and for those staff who were on a nine-day fortnight in 2001, this cannot be taken away.

Council’s recent “capability review” commissioned by new CEO Ben Rimmer disclosed that 42 per cent of all full time staff are on a nine-day fortnight.

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